South Park Self

administration with Kafka

oh, gods, board schedule checking season. This is, as we know, always obnoxious and horrible and causes me to erupt into irritation and then crash into exhaustion and illness more or less annually. It transpires, however, that previous years of board schedule checking were in fact a kind of lost idyll, a Nirvana whose like we shall not see again. Because, see, in previous years the administrative section of the faculty office has been, while increasingly troubled, at least functional. This year it was not. This year has slid straight down the slick glass slippery slope into resentful, resistance-laden anarchy.

I have a hard deadline of 10am this morning, which is the time my large cohort of carefully-trained academics arrive to collect their giant chunks of printed board schedules for checking. In order to facilitate this, the administrators in the faculty office needed to produce the final files of student records by 4pm yesterday and send them off to the print shop in order to print overnight, as it's five or six hours of printing non-stop. At 9.30 this morning, unable to discover board schedules in any likely or logical place, I finally tracked down the deputy faculty manager, to find her frantically copying files onto a stick. For printing. To take to the copy shop now. Because apparently in her world five hours of printing fits into half an hour.

I have basically, in a mode comprised of a slightly worrying mix of dominatrix and mother, wrested the control of this unhappy printing process into my own hands, in order to correctly explain, prioritise and urge it along, as it appears that no-one else actually understands what they're doing here. I have emailed updates to academics, tracked down those weird metal-tipped string things we use to hold together the schedules, personally labelled and ordered them, generated a collection list, and triple-checked that everything is being printed. The copy guys have printed one batch twice, printed three files unnecessarily, lost another and printed the most recent one, the largest, without the punched holes which will enable us to actually use the weird metal-tipped string things. Halfway through they simply stopped printing because I wasn't standing over them and apparently the instruction "here's a list, print them in this order, I need them all by 11.30" is ambiguous and bewildering. If we're lucky, the whole thing will finally be finished by about 2pm.

None of this is my job. All of this is basic administration which administrators should be doing in support of my academic function. It is not being done because (a) no-one in that office has the institutional memory of the process, they're all new, and (b) the entire office is in a state of seething resentment owing to Hellboss, to the point where they refuse to take responsibility for anything at all. So I have to. With my copious emotional energy and in my copious free time.

Now I go into a week of continuous board schedule checking followed by continuous meetings. If the whole process works at all, it'll be because I have held it together with my bare hands. This faculty is going to be so completely screwed when I leave, it's not even funny. The whole thing is going to collapse. I'm not going to be here to see it. If I have to go and walk dogs for a living, I will be elsewhere when the debacle rolls around next year. Because I am done with this.

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